THE Bristol community has joined police in condemning the “disgusting” vandalism, looting and disorder that has swept across the city.
The damage caused Tuesday morning may not have been on the scale of the Stokes Croft riots in April, but it has attracted disgust in equal measure.
Following anarchy in London, trouble started in Bristol in the early hours on the streets of St Paul’s, Montpelier, St Werburgh’s, Kingswood and at Cabot Circus shopping centre.
Masked gangs of youths threw bricks and set cars and bins alight.
In the centre, jewellery shop Thomas Sabo was raided, suffering thousands of pounds worth of thefts and damage.
More than 150 young rioters caused disruption around Stokes Croft, with the controversial new Tesco store once again having windows smashed.
Tuesday night police were on the streets in force, while shops had closed early and many had been boarded up. Disorder was reported at Ashfield Young Offenders
Institution in Pucklechurch,
while Bristol City’s League Cup fixture was cancelled on police advice.
Police have also spoken with the organisers of the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, due to start on Thursday, although it is currently due to go ahead as planned.
Shoppers and residents in the affected areas have united in their distaste at the third bout of serious trouble on the city’s streets this year.
Sarah and Dave Evans, of City Road, St Paul’s, were kept up all night by the noise and disorder.
Mrs Evans, 53, who remembers the St Paul’s riots in 1980, said: “I think the people doing this are silly idiots – it’s so stupid.”
Tom Roberts, 24, who lives in Stokes Croft, said: “People are getting really sick to death of having the police helicopter flying over every night. It has become the norm where I live.”
“It agitates people, who end up going on to the internet and the problems get worse.”
Tony Wong, 39, of Clifton said: “I think it’s despicable. It’s unfair on the people who work in shops, and the owners of the places, because they’ve got nothing to do with it.”
Smashed glass, fragments of bricks and charred rubbish littered some streets yesterday.
The McDonald’s on the Horsefair had two windows smashed overnight – the same restaurant targeted during April’s riots.
Further down the Horsefair, Debenhams also had a large window pane damaged, as did John Anthony in Quakers Friars.
Optician Sean Crocker said at times like these he even worries about walking to work in the morning.
The 21-year-old, from Whitchurch, parks on Pennywell Road and walks in to Optical Express at Cabot Circus, where he works.
“It’s quite scary,” he admitted. “You come into work and you don’t know what might have happened overnight.”
“What happened in Stokes Croft in April was really shocking and I think everyone thought that would be the end of it.”
Dennis and Rita Card had come to Cabot Circus from Yeovil and were shocked to see the jewellery shop had been raided.
Mr Card, 67, said: “It’s absolutely ridiculous. It has turned into out-and-out pinching and thieving, it’s not about protest any more.
“I think it’s a reflection of the general situation in the country at the moment.”
Mrs Card, 63, said: “It’s disgusting, damage like this.”
As of last night, five people had been arrested for criminal damage, theft and assaulting a police officer.
In St Paul’s, at least three burnt- out cars and several bins were set alight overnight and the Avon and Somerset Probation Trust offices had suffered damage.
Residents and shopkeepers in St Paul’s, Montpelier and St Werburgh’s emerged to survey the damage yesterday morning.
Andy Valentine, 28, from St Paul’s, said: “The only way I can really describe it is like the start of an end-of-the-world movie. It sounds dramatic, but it’s true.”
Julian Celer, 42, of Montpelier, said: “I heard the helicopter all night but I didn’t actually see anything until this morning. It’s a bit of a shock to see the bins have been set on fire and to hear on the news about what’s happened.”
“I’m not really surprised the riots have spread from London, Bristol is always a flash point for these kind of things.”
In Saxton Street, Montpelier, firefighters put out flames at a gas main which had caught fire overnight after a bin fire spread. Residents had to be evacuated.
Sam Walsh and her boyfriend Robert Boardman helped residents on Richmond Road extinguish shop bins that had been set alight.
Applied Drama student Sam, 30, of nearby York Road, said: “There was loads of shouting and screaming coming from Picton Street.
“We went out and could see all the bins had been set on fire. There were riot police everywhere.
“All the neighbours clubbed together and fetched water to put it out because the fire brigade weren’t there and the shops and houses would have gone up too.
“I think this sort of thing is out of order.
“I can understand that people are really annoyed about what is going on in the country at the moment, but they don’t need to do this.”
The violence also spread to Kingswood where a mobile phone shop in the High Street was plundered.
The shutters on the front of V J’s Telecommunications were wrecked and phones stolen.
Shop assistant Steven Hathway, 27, said what had happened was “disgusting”.
“I can’t believe they have done this,” he said. “They should respect people’s property.”
Yesterday morning, officers from the Redcliffe neighbourhood policing team were out and about providing reassurance after a bicycle shopcan you check the name of this in the picture we took? on Temple Gate was vandalised. At about 4am yesterday people had tried to get in and steal bikes but failed.
The police were called and two people were arrested.
Tuesday night the first CCTV pictures of rioters were released in a bid to track them down.
Local MPs have echoed the public’s sentiments in condemning the crimes.
Stephen Williams, Lib Dem member for Bristol West, said: “It is completely unjustified. It is not really rioting, it is actually just looting and the behaviour of vandals. Smashing shops, setting bins on fire or stealing jewellery has got nothing to do with legitimate political cause and everything to do with theft and opportunism.”
Bristol East Labour MP Kerry McCarthy called the unrest in the city “aimless”. She said the mood had been completely different from that during riots in Stokes Croft in April, which was sparked by a police raid on a squat and the building of a controversial Tesco store nearby.
She said: “It wasn’t like London, where there were concerted efforts at looting,” she said. “It sounds like it was very mindless, in that people were thinking ‘it’s happening elsewhere, let’s see what’s happening in Bristol’. We need to put a lid on it quickly.”
Avon Fire and Rescue Service said it was taking its lead from the police in dealing with blazes.
Crews attended 10 incidents between midnight and 5am yesterday – three vehicles and seven rubbish fires.
Fire service spokesman James Bladon said: “When something like this happens, fire officers will be in charge of attending if necessary along with more senior staff who are in charge on a more strategic side who are in conversation with the police at various intervals.
“Conversations are continuing with the police. We are aware of the risks and will be responding accordingly.”
A small fire was started at Ashfield Young Offenders’ Institution in Pucklechurch last night.
Mr Bladon said firefighters had been asked to attend the prison last night and had been on standby but had taken no further action. He said the incident, which happened around 7.50pm, was being dealt with by prison authorities.
Mr Bladon could not confirm reports that the blaze was caused by seven to ten juveniles rioting, which was reported on the Guardian website.
Great Western Ambulance Service, which runs the NHS service in the Bristol area, was largely unaffected.
The only call received by the service was to a police officer who had suffered minor injuries and had already made their own way to hospital by the time paramedics arrived at the scene.
One of the ambulance service’s specialist teams was on standby ready to attend if necessary. The hazardous area response team (HART) is trained to deal with patients in a range of settings, including terrorist attacks, chemical spills and riots.
Ambulance service spokesman John Oliver said: “As much as possible we look to maintain a ‘business as usual’ service for people wherever they are.”
He said that if necessary the service could also look at setting up mobile treatment units.
Ambulance staff have been given advice about ensuring they use personal protection kit so as not to endanger themselves when attending incidents and have also been told that in circumstances where they might usually require a police escort one might not be available due to officers dealing with riots.
A young businessman has complained he was hit over the head by police with a baton, causing a cut that needed three stitches.
Mahmud Khanpic of his injury sent to pictures@ and ep subs is adamant he did nothing wrong when he was injured after getting some food from Slix takeaway on Stokes Croft in the early hours of yesterday.
The 23-year-old, of the Wells Road, said: “I had come back from a marketing meeting in London and wanted some Halal food. It’s Ramadan, so I can only eat after dark.
“I came out of the shop and tried to cross the road when I was hit over the head. I lost a lot of blood and had to go to the BRI.
“I did nothing wrong and I have witnesses to prove it.”
Mr Khan said he is taking several days off work and is going to complain to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Police spokeswoman Claire Stanley said all complaints are taken seriously but that the force will not comment if a complaint has been made to the IPCC.